Friday, May 08, 2015

Breaking News

Tuesday morning found Mary back at ADR, reviewing the system for possible faults. Sean was at the apartment, checking his emails and scouring news feeds. His interest was aroused when he came across a cryptic article on The Chicago Sun-Times site. It was about a man who had been hit by lightning in Decorah. Sean called Tina but received no answer. He then checked the local news and noticed a reference to the semi accident near Issaquah. The area was still closed to traffic, the trailer had been full of fertilizer and other flammables and was considered a fire and explosion risk. The driver was, as Sean had surmised, dead. He was an independent owner-operator from Virginia; his exact final destination was unknown.

Sean turned his attention to the contents of the jump drive which Mary had made the previous day. Its content was a summation of Roger Ramsen’s files—cross-referenced with Billy’s research on the Senator. The results showed the people, addresses, businesses and other interconnections of The Brotherhood’s organization. On a hunch, Sean re-ran the files with the name of the semi driver included. While the program was running the rental agent called to confirm the lease application Sean had submitted. Sean went down to the building superintendent’s office and picked up the keys for the additional apartment. When he returned, the computer had finished running: the driver’s name came up. He was affiliated with one of the companies of The Brotherhood’s members.  That and the fact that the truck was hauling bomb-making materials disturbed Sean greatly.

At the ADR offices, Mary had run into her old employee Eddie, who had thrown the engagement party the previous night. Eddie looked a little rough.

“That fortune teller was a nice touch, Ed. Did you hire her to see if she could predict any other engagements among the staff?” said Mary.

“I didn’t hire her, she must have been a freelancer,” said Eddie, looking at Mary’s ring, “I didn’t hear about any new engagements, but it looks as if you and Sean have been busy.”

Mary frowned, then quickly smiled: “We decided to forgo the engagement, you could say that the internet made the announcement for us.”

“Congratulations. We miss having you two around. Have you had any fallout from those pictures on your balcony?”

“They’re old news now. I thought I looked pretty good. What did you think?”

“Of course, I didn’t look at them—you know that I’m engaged now, but the other guys were duly impressed,” Eddie said, “Anything coming up on the horizon for you two?”

“Nothing I can talk about,” Mary said, “That ‘Billygate’ business still hasn’t been resolved. We’d appreciate hearing about anyone asking questions about it, or about us.”

“We’re cool, we’ll keep our ears open and our mouths shut. Are you going be around here for awhile?”

“A couple of days. I tweaked the main algorithm a little. I want to keep my eye on it for a while.”

The new apartment was a mirror duplicate of their old one but turned around so that the balcony faced southeast, toward Mount Rainier, rather than toward Elliot bay. Sean scanned the horizon and was pleased to note that there were no buildings with a direct line of sight into the flat. He was also pleased to see that the WiFi from their old unit reached the new one. He opened an app on his phone—turning the laptop in his old apartment into an instant security camera. As he was scanning the setup to view his apartment his cell rang; it was UPS. They were downstairs, with the boxes from Iowa. Sean went down to take delivery.

Back in Decorah, Tina was sitting in the Sheriff’s office. They were joined by an FBI agent and a man sporting a Homeland Security patch on his jacket sleeve.

“You understand that this is a formality,” began the agent, “A case as strange as this one may have unknown ramifications. It appears that it may be related to your nephew, we’re here not only to see to your safety but are also trying to get some background information. You may have answered some of these questions before, we’re only asking them again to be able to construct a timeline and better coordinate our investigations. Any questions?”

Tina, who had been staying with Edwin in the apartment above his shop, only had one:

“When can I go home?”

Mary was waiting for a validity test to finish running. She was curious about the fortune teller so she ran an internet search on any from the Seattle area. There were about a dozen threads, but ‘Madame Tara’ immediately drew Mary’s attention. The picture on the site was definitely the woman she had met the night before. What was even more intriguing was the fact that the address was the same as where she and Sean had dropped off ‘Jo’ the hitchhiker Saturday night.  Mary called the number.

“Madame T,” a voice answered.

“We met at King’s last night,” said Mary, “You told me I was pregnant. We need to talk.”

“But of course, you have the address?”

“Yes, can we meet somewhere near there?” Mary said. “No offense, but it might be embarrassing for me to be seen going to a fortune teller.”

“Something to do with religion?” said Madame Tara.

“Something like that, yes.”

“Of course, that sort of thing happens from time to time. Can you meet me at the water tower in Volunteer Park? It’s just up the street from here.”

“I know the place, Is three o’clock O.K.?” said Mary.

“I'll be there.”

When Mary arrived at the base of the massive brick structure there was no sign of ‘Madame Tara.’ She looked into the doorway which led to the inside of the tower and called for Tara. Her shouts echoed up the stairway that snaked its way up between the outer brick wall and the central steel tank. After waiting a few minutes, Mary left and walked down Aloha street to Tara’s house. Mary rang the doorbell without response. When she started pounding on the door, the door of the adjoining duplex unit opened and Jo, the hitch-hiker, stepped out.

“Wow, what are you doing here?” Jo said.

“I was supposed to meet with the woman who lives upstairs. She had told me that she would meet me at the water tower fifteen minutes ago. She never showed up.”

“That’s funny, she left here about a half an hour ago. I was napping on the couch and the sound of the door slamming woke me up,” said Jo.

Their conversation was interrupted by sirens. Mary could see that a police car and an emergency vehicle were at the end of the block. They walked to the park where a crowd of people had already assembled. They were watching the police enter the tower, followed by some EMTs. More police soon arrived and herded the crowd out of the park. After a while, the medical personnel emerged from the base of the tower, toting a shrouded figure on a gurney.

Mary knew that Tara was dead.


By Professor Batty